On Tuesday, Nov. 4, the people of the United States will make some big decisions. Early voting in D.C. begins on Oct. 20. In recent years we have seen fewer people take advantage of what so many in the past both here and around the world have thought enough of to give their lives for: the right to vote.
In the United States, many now take it so for granted they no longer see it as a responsibility of citizenship and just don’t bother. There are those who do understand the value of a vote and will stand in line for hours to do so, but usually only in presidential election years.
Pundits give many reasons for low turnouts in primaries and what we call off-year elections — a term that makes no sense because no election should be considered off-year. The Republican Party must assume part of the blame because it works to make voting more difficult. Some in the GOP believe accurately that the more people they can keep from voting the better it is for them. The people they actively work to disenfranchise, minorities and the poor, will most often reject their candidates.
Whether it’s the mayoral election in D.C. or elections for the United States Senate in Louisiana, Arkansas, North Carolina, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Iowa or Alaska, it is generally acknowledged the bigger the turnout the better for Democrats. That truth makes a statement as to what the majority of people in the United States believe. When Democrats win we have more chance to advance immigration reform, women’s rights, ENDA, protections for union workers and raising the minimum wage. Democrats support the Affordable Healthcare Act and guaranteeing women equal pay for equal work.
Not every local official elected will directly impact these issues. But if we elect Democratic mayors, governors and state legislators as a nation we are saying we want a more progressive and fair society. We will have the opportunity to make our government more responsive to those in need.
I admit proudly to being a biased and unrepentant progressive Democrat. I have been since my first Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City in 1964 at which Lyndon Johnson was nominated, to the convention that nominated Barack Obama in 2008; and look forward to the one in 2016 at which I hope we will nominate Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Some suggest a career in government and the non-profit sector has skewed my outlook. While denying that, admittedly it has left me with little patience for those who feel entitled to hold on to every nickel they make insisting that at whatever rate they are taxed it is too much. It has left me with little patience for those who support a war but don’t want to pay for it and little patience for those who won’t accept that government must pay for a great public education for all.
The political spectrum in the United States runs from the far right to the far left and neither will accomplish what is needed to move our nation forward. The majority of voters show themselves to be moderates who don’t agree with the political dogma at either end of the spectrum. This becomes clear when electing a president and even true in most cases when voting for members of Congress. But as we have seen when ideologues do get elected they don’t need large numbers to stalemate the government. Congress today is a prime example of that.
So as we near these mid-term elections, voters can make a statement. Electing Democrats up and down the ticket will, among other things, keep the current right-wing controlled Republican Party from claiming the progressive movement is dead. Voters can make this statement across the nation by electing John Foust in Virginia’s 10th, and Seth Moulton in Massachusetts’s 6th to the House of Representatives. The can re-elect Jeanne Shaheen to the Senate from New Hampshire and senators Mark Udall in Colorado and Tom Udall in New Mexico. They can make their statement by electing Muriel Bowser, endorsed by President Obama, as mayor of the nation’s capital; electing Mary Burke governor of Wisconsin; Eric Lesser to the state Senate in Massachusetts and Jon Hoadley to the state legislature in Michigan.
Together these and other Democratic candidates will make a difference as we continue the fight for full equality and fairness for all across the nation.